Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis has dismissed the church's chief of doctrine Cardinal Gerhard Mueller -- one of the most powerful cardinals at the Vatican -- and appointed a Spanish Archbishop to the role, the Vatican said Saturday.
German conservative Mueller, 69, who served a five-year posting as head of the powerful department responsible for church doctrine, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), had clashed with the pope over key reform issues.
He was one of several cardinals who questioned Francis's determination for the Catholic Church to take a softer line on people traditionally seen as "sinners", including remarried divorced people who want to take Communion.
Mueller had also been caught up in the controversy surrounding the Church's response to the clerical sex abuse scandal after his department was accused earlier this year of obstructing Francis's efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.
The Vatican said Mueller's five-year term would not be renewed and he would be replaced by CDF Secretary Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, a 73-year-old Spaniard.